A Tough City

I avoided Rebecca the rest of the evening yesterday.  There turned out to be no reggae concert and so a group of us just checked out some clubs.  Katy left this morning, and I headed into town around midday.  I booked a night train to Barcelona for tomorrow night.  I’ve had enough of this place already.

Marseille, as far as I can tell, is a very “dry” place.  There doesn’t seem to be much happening.  Also, it doesn’t feel like France.  There are so many North Africans here and the city is so unkempt (unlike Paris), that I keep forgetting that I’m in France still.  I have to remind myself of it frequently.

I had dinner at an Algerian restaurant.  The French really love their baguettes, I’ve noticed, but I’m not much of a fan.  The bread is too dry and hard in my opinion.  However, I didn’t have much of a choice at the Algerian place.  So I instructed the man on how to make a cheesesteak.  It was a slapdash job, but the sandwich came out quite good.

Later when I was returning to the hostel, I got to the bus stop only to learn that the buses had stopped running at 9:00pm.  I was surprised because I had been told buses ran until midnight. It was around 11:00pm, and there was not a single taxi in sight.  So I set out walking.  I saw a man a few yards ahead of me hitchhiking, and after traipsing along for a bit, I decided to give it a try, too.  I stuck my thumb out and watched for any potential takers.  I got no bites.  I continued walking along the broad stretch of empty highway until finally, I saw a cab and hailed it.  I started a conversation with the cab driver, Mohammad, and asked him how he liked Marseille.  He didn’t like it at all, he told me.  So much for trying to get a positive view of the city.

Marseille really is a tough place.  A group of Chinese tourists that just arrived was robbed on the way to the hostel.  The man rented a car, and they were driving to the hostel when a young boy stopped them on the road.  While they were stopped, another boy ran up to the car, grabbed a bag through an open window, and ran off with it.  When they told their story to Jean, he asserted matter-of-factly that the boys must have been Arabs.  I take it Arabs don’t have such a good reputation around here.

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